What Happens if You Miss Child Custody Mediation?

Some courts these days will require parents engaged in custody battles to try  mediation before settling their issues in court. 

If the parents can agree on custody through mediation, or any alternative dispute resolution means, that can work to reduce the stress or emotional and psychological problems on the child. With agreements that are reached through mediation, co-parenting becomes easier than when everything is left for the court to decide. 

A court may order mediation because of the benefits that it has for the child. It also benefits the parents since it takes less time to make decisions than the court process that will take much longer. Some of the other benefits of mediation include:

  • Reduces stress on the parents and the kids. 
  • Focuses on the best interests of the child making co-parenting easy. 
  • The parties have total control of the whole process. 
  • Both parents can more easily comply with the decisions they arrive at. 
  • Both parents are satisfied with the decisions. 
  • Faster resolution than in the court process. 
  • It saves a lot of money that would have been spent in the court process. 

Due to the numerous benefits that come with mediation, courts will always encourage parents to mediate their issues. Parents may choose to have a private mediator to handle mediation or if there is no willingness by the parents, the court may order mediation. 

Court-ordered mediation can be done within the premises of the court where a judge appoints a mediator who is certified and experienced to handle matters regarding child custody. 

Unsurprisingly, one parent may fail to show up during the mediation process. Let’s look at the circumstances that may lead one to fail to attend, and the consequences of missing the court-ordered mediation. 

What Can Cause One Parent to Miss Child Custody Mediation 

A mediation process that is ordered by the court is just like any other court order. It is not a voluntary thing for a parent to attend mediation since it is an obligation by the court. However, some circumstances may make a parent miss child custody mediation and such may include:

Unavoidable Life Emergency 

Life emergencies sometimes become inevitable. Such can be things like medical emergencies or an accident where the parent involved has no option but to attend to the emergency first, or even becomes unable to attend due to physical inability arising from the accident. When that is the case, the court may reschedule mediation until when that party is out of danger or emergency. 

Other Compelling Circumstances 

One party may also miss a court-ordered mediation out of other compelling circumstances such as being out of state at that particular time of mediation due to work demands, or have not been able to meet financial obligations and their applications for a waiver has not been approved. Such cases may be considered by the court when there is a genuine cause for one to miss the mediation process. 

What Happens when One Fails to Attend Mediation?

It depends on the situation and what caused one to miss the mediation process as ordered by the court. If the failure to attend was caused by unforeseen circumstances such as emergency as we discussed, then the following may happen: 

Rescheduling 

As we mentioned, a party that fails to show up in mediation due to a genuine cause may be considered by the court by having the mediation rescheduled. This can be done by the attorneys of the two parties through an agreement to have the sessions rescheduled to another date when both parties are available to attend. 

Continuation of The Hearing 

This can happen when the party that missed the session fails to prove their cause for failing to attend the earlier scheduled mediation. The other party’s attorney may request the court to continue with the hearing since the party that missed did not show sufficient evidence on why they missed. 

What Are the Consequences of Refusing to Attend Court-Ordered Mediation?

To refuse means to deliberately decline to do something that you are required to. When it comes to court-ordered mediation, refusing to attend means that you are available, but have voluntarily chosen to disobey the court order. Some parents may refuse to attend mediation either due to ignorance thinking that they are punishing the other parent, but in reality, they are hurting their chances of winning the case, and possibly being held in contempt of the court. 

Contempt of The Court

You are likely to be held in contempt of the court if you deliberately miss a court-ordered mediation. Contempt of the court is a serious offense that creates a disturbance or impedes the functioning of the court in dealing with the child custody matter. This may attract fines or even jail time depending on the court.  

Court Sanctions 

The court may impose sanctions on the party that deliberately failed to show up during mediation as the case continues. This can be as a result of the other party petitioning the court to have them sanctioned as the case is heard. Sanctions by the court may be in the form of fines, paying for the other party’s attorney fees, or community service. 

Possibility of Losing the Case 

If a parent willingly ignores the orders that were directed by the court, such parent may be deemed unfit and there are high chances of him or her losing the case to the other party that obeyed the court orders. 

Conclusion 

If missing court-ordered child custody mediation was due to unavoidable emergency, then you should not worry since you have sufficient evidence to prove that it wasn’t deliberate. On the other hand, refusing to attend or show up for mediation that is ordered by the court is treated as contempt of the court and that is punishable by the law.